By Abayomi Azikiwe
On October 24, the United States and other imperialist states, for the third time, voted against a resolution, this time sponsored by the Republic of Brazil, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Two other resolutions over the last two weeks, one sponsored by Russia and the other also by Brazil, were prevented from being adopted due to the influence of the administration of President Joe Biden.
Since the beginning of the Al-Aqsa Storm emanating from the Gaza Strip on October 7, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have imposed a total siege on an area considered the most densely populated in the world. Many refer to Gaza as the largest open-air prison on the planet.
Over 6,000 people have been killed during the siege with thousands more injured, wounded and traumatized. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been displaced from their homes due to the arbitrary evacuation orders from the IDF and the incessant bombings. Many of those killed were children, people with disabilities, the infirm and expectant women.
Civilian residential areas, schools, mosques, churches and hospitals have been subjected to targeted bombings by the IDF. Electricity has been terminated while the ban on fuel imports is threatening large-scale contamination of the water systems which could result in an outbreak of cholera and other infectious diseases.
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres spoke before the Security Council urging the passing of the resolution for a ceasefire. Guterres outlined the horrendous humanitarian crisis which is directly the result of the IDF bombings and refusal to allow aid into Gaza from the Rafah Crossing or other border areas.
Since October 20, less than 50 trucks carrying humanitarian assistance have been able to enter Gaza from Egypt through the Rafah Crossing. On October 24, the same day as the UNSC debate, no trucks were able to enter the enclave. This is contrasted with the situation prior to October 7, when between 400-500 trucks a day carrying food, medicines, fuel and other supplies provided many of the essential needs of the Palestinians in Gaza. Even with the presence of Guterres in Egypt near the Rafah Crossing on October 20, the opening was still delayed until the following day.
Guterres, in his introductory remarks before the Security Council on October 24, emphasized:
“The situation in the Middle East is growing more dire by the hour. The war in Gaza is raging and risks spiraling throughout the region. Divisions are splintering societies. Tensions threaten to boil over. At a crucial moment like this, it is vital to be clear on principles — starting with the fundamental principle of respecting and protecting civilians. I have condemned unequivocally the horrifying and unprecedented 7 October acts of terror by Hamas in Israel. Nothing can justify the deliberate killing, injuring and kidnapping of civilians – or the launching of rockets against civilian targets. All hostages must be treated humanely and released immediately and without conditions. I respectfully note the presence among us of members of their families.
“It is important to also recognize the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum. The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation. They have seen their land steadily devoured by settlements and plagued by violence; their economy stifled; their people displaced, and their homes demolished. Their hopes for a political solution to their plight have been vanishing. But the grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas. And those appalling attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.”
Unfortunately, these remarks by the Secretary General are highly contradictory to the point of canceling out the central points. United Nations General Assembly Resolutions passed between 1960-1990, upholds the right to self-determination for all oppressed and colonized people.
Moreover, these resolutions recognize the right of the colonized peoples to utilize any means necessary to safeguard their interests and bring about national liberation. Following the logic of these resolutions, Hamas or any other resistance movement is well within the contours of international law in taking up arms to win their freedom.
Since 1948, as well as 1967, the United Nations has failed to bring into existence an independent Palestinian state. The Palestinian people remain aliens in their own homeland. Millions of them are in forced exile with no right to return to the land of their ancestors.
In Gaza, the West Bank, Jerusalem and throughout the Occupied Territories (OPT), Palestinians are subject to illegal evictions, arrests and murder. Since the siege on Gaza, hundreds of Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank by the security forces utilizing small arms, drones and other methods of inflicting serious injury and death.
This system of settler-colonial occupation and repression is financed largely by the U.S. which claims to be the leading democratic state in the world. Successive U.S. administrations routinely describe the State of Israel as a “democracy.” How can Tel Aviv be a democracy when the majority of the people are denied their fundamental civil and human rights? The Palestinians are treated as being inferior to the Israeli settlers and consequently relegated to the lower echelons of society and within the broader international community.
Resistance Remains the Only Solution to the Palestinian Question
Whether Secretary General Guterres is willing to recognize it or not, the Palestinians and other people living in the states surrounding the State of Israel have no alternative other than to defend themselves against settler aggression. The fact that Tel Aviv is funded, armed and given diplomatic cover by Washington and its imperialist allies, means that the struggle for the liberation of Palestine and the sovereignty of neighboring states, has broad international implications.
Biden, Rishi Sunak, Olof Schulz and Emmanuel Macron have all visited Tel Aviv to express their unconditional support to the Zionist state. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the media while standing next to French President Macron on October 24 that the conflict in Occupied Palestine is between “civilization or barbarism.”
The same language was utilized during the visit of Biden on October 18 in the aftermath of the IDF bombing of the Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza, which killed nearly 500 people. Rather than call for a thorough investigation into the Al-Ahli bombing and all similar attacks carried out by the IDF, Biden readily endorsed the fabrications of the Israeli government. Biden has not yet called for a ceasefire and the resumption of adequate assistance to the people of Gaza. Instead, the White House wants to send billions of more dollars to Israel to suppress the Palestinians along with continuing the failing war in Ukraine, the attempts to contain the People’s Republic of China and the fortification of the southern border to keep out migrants from Mexico, Central America, South America and other geopolitical regions of the globe.
Therefore, the divisions are clear: the imperialist states in their view represent civilization while the oppressed fighting for national liberation signify barbarity. Such an outlook paves the way for a global conflagration which could very well determine the future of human society.
However, for the western imperialist states and their allies to enforce this world view, it would require the re-enslavement and re-colonization of billions of people particularly in the Global South. An attempt to implement the subjugation of the majority of the world’s population would undoubtedly prompt a tremendous war of resistance spanning numerous countries and continents.
Consequently, the workers and oppressed within the imperialist states have a critical role to play in the present period. Capitalism in its current phase is incapable of providing adequate incomes, housing, energy resources, environmental quality, education and healthcare. Within the leading western capitalist states, there is significant unrest among the workers and oppressed who are demanding economic justice and an end to structural racism. These burgeoning struggles in the industrialized states must merge with the aspirations of those in the Global South to create a world without exploitation and imperialist war.